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The Kindness of Strangers, or Not

A few days ago I was startled to get an anti-spam challenge from an Earthlink user, to whom I had not written. Challenges are a WKBA (well known bad idea) which I thought had been stamped out, but apparently not. The plan of challenges seems simple enough; they demand that the sender does something to prove he's human that a spammer is unlikely to do. more»

What is Anti-Spam?

There's a lot of argument as to which "anti-spam" techniques are legitimately so called. In this article, I'd like to consider what constitutes an anti-spam technique in an ideal sense, then consider the various practiced approaches to spam mitigation in that light, drawing conclusions as to how we should frame the "anti-spam" discussion. ...For the purposes of this discussion, let "spam" refer to "unsolicited bulk email". Not everyone agrees on this definition, but it's by far the most widely accepted, and without a working definition we won't be able to define "anti-spam"... more»

DotSpam? Certain New gTLDs Rapidly Outpacing Legacy TLDs in Terms of Abuse

Would you like to hear about how to treat your psoriasis? Where to get a cheap oil change? How to flatten your belly? Achieve a stronger sexual life? Cheap toner? Annuities? Herpes? Bed bugs? Free energy? Varicose-Veins? Herpes? Saggy skin? Arthritis? Overactive bladder? Drug addiction? Herpes? No? Well, that's too bad, because that you are going to hear about it whether you like it or not. Many of the messages about these and other subjects are being carried to you via new gTLDs. more»

Officially Compromised Privacy

The essence of information privacy is control over disclosure. Whoever is responsible for the information is supposed to be able to decide who sees it. If a society values privacy, it needs to ensure that there are reasonable protections possible against disclosure to those not authorized by the information's owner. In the online world, an essential technical component for this assurance is encryption. If the encryption that is deployed permits disclosure to those who were not authorized by the information's owner, there should be serious concern about the degree of privacy that is meaningfully possible. more»

Managing (in)Security Through Regulation: A Key Phase for Nation States

Not so long ago, the notion of introducing laws and other regulatory responses to address cyber security issues was regarded with significant hesitation by governments and policy makers. To some extent, this hesitation may well have stemmed from a general perception by those who do not work directly in the field that the world of cyber security is somewhat of a 'dark art'. More recently, however, there has been a substantial shift in this attitude, with proposals to regulate a range of cyber security related matters becoming increasingly numerous. more»

The Cycle of E-Mail Security

Stepping back from the DMARC arguments, it occurs to me that there is a predictable cycle with every new e-mail security technology... Someone invents a new way to make e-mail more secure, call it SPF or DKIM or DMARC or (this month's mini-fiasco) PGP in DANE. Each scheme has a model of the way that mail works. For some subset of e-mail, the model works great, for other mail it works less great. more»

Snowshoe Spam: What It Is, and How Not to Look Like You Send It

Have you ever found yourself blocked by a snowshoe spam filter or listed on a snowshoe blacklist? Or perhaps you've been told that one of your mailing practices makes you look like a snowshoe spammer? If so, you're probably wondering what snowshoe spam is, what you're doing to earn this reputation and what you should be doing differently. Here's a brief overview of the history of snowshoe and some suggestions on how to avoid being mistaken for a snowshoe spammer. more»

M3AAWG Releases Anti-Abuse Best Common Practices for Hosting and Cloud Service Providers

Jointly published by the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2C) and the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group, the new document outlines proven activities that can help Web hosting services improve their operations and better protect end-users. more»

When DNSBLs Go Bad

I have often remarked that any fool can run a DNS-Based Blacklist (DNSBL) and many fools do so. Since approximately nobody uses the incompetently run black lists, they don't matter. Unfortunately, using a DNSBL requires equally little expertise, which becomes a problem when an operator wants to shut down a list. When someone sets up a mail server (which we'll call an MTA for Mail Transfer Agent), one of the tasks is to configure the anti-spam features, which invariably involves using DNSBLs. more»

The EFF and Hanlon's Razor

The EFF has just posted a shallower than usual deeplink alleging an "email encryption downgrade attack" by ISPs intent on eavesdropping on their customers. They, along with VPN provider Golden Frog, have additionally complained to the FCC reporting this. Here, they've just noticed something that's common across several hotel / airport wifi networks... more»

Fine Grained Mail Filtering With IPv6

One of the hottest topics in the email biz these days (insofar as any topic is hot) is how we will deal with mail on IPv6 networks. On existing IPv4 networks, one of the most effective anti-spam techniques is DNSBLs, blackists (or blocklists) that list IP addresses that send only or mostly spam, or whose owners have stated that they shouldn't be sending mail at all. DNSBLs are among the cheapest of anti-spam techniques since they can be applied to incoming mail connections without having to receive or filter spam. more»

The Naive Arrogance of FUSSPs

Everyone who's been in the e-mail biz long enough knows the term FUSSP, Final Ultimate Solution to the Spam Problem, as described in a checklist from Vern Schryver and a form response that's been floating around the net for a decade. FUSSPs fall into two general categories, bad ideas that won't go away, and reasonable ideas that are oversold. more»

Phishing: A Look Into the E-Crime Landscape

At the recent Anti-Phishing Working Group meeting in San Francisco, Rod Rasmussen and I published our latest APWG Global Phishing Survey. Phishing is a distinct kind of e-crime, one that's possible to measure and analyze in depth. Our report is a look at how criminals act and react, and what the implications are for the domain name industry. more»

The Death of IP Based Reputation

Back in the dark ages of email delivery the only thing that really mattered to get your email into the inbox was having a good IP reputation. If your IP sent good mail most of the time, then that mail got into the inbox and all was well with the world. All that mattered was that good IP reputation. Even better for the people who wanted to game the system and get their spam into the inbox, there were many ways to get around IP reputation. more»

How to Stop the Spread of Malware? A Call for Action

On Webwereld an article was published following a new Kaspersky malware report Q1-2013. Nothing new was mentioned here. The Netherlands remains the number 3 as far as sending malware from Dutch servers is concerned. At the same time Kaspersky writes that The Netherlands is one of the most safe countries as far as infections go. So what is going on here? more»